The incredible power of paper prototyping

May 23, 2019

How do you make a learning experience come to life as soon and as simple as possible? Through paper prototyping. Here’s a crash course.

First of all, you don’t have to be an artist to create a paper prototype. Anybody can do it! You just have to try it and not be afraid to fail. Paper prototyping is fast and you can just as easily redo part of your prototype.

What do you need? Just a couple of sheets of paper and something to draw with, preferably a marker but a pen or pencil will also do.

What else do you need? A good idea for your learning experience. Also people to test your design and we’ll call them the test group. Ideally they’d be a similar group to the people you actually design for but they don’t have to be. Testing early and often is more important than doing one perfect test.

How do you start? A first step is to look at the resources that are going to be used in your learning experience. For example a phone, playing cards or a video.

What’s next? Now you want to look at what else your users would need besides the resources to experience your design. For example instructions or an assignment.

Are we done? Maybe you may need to add more detail or variations of your resources. For example different screens in an app that simulate interaction.

Now it’s time to test, right? Absolutely. Simple as that! You can guide your test group through the experience using the materials you’ve created.

What if the design fails completely? Great job! You’ve just learned a lot about what may or may nor work. Especially what doesn’t work. All you need is another fifteen to thirty minutes to change your design and create a new prototype.

What if everything works perfectly? Congrats, you can now continue to develop and refine the final experience and turn these pieces of paper into a reality.

You see, it’s not that hard. I can’t recommend enough how paper prototyping can really help improve your designs. Give it a try and have fun!

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